|Opera Australia's summer season opens with our New Year's Eve performance of La boheme|
|The New Year's Eve Opera Gala|
The silly season is in full swing: Santa is putting in appearances at wine bars and kiddies’ parties, festive frocks are being hauled out for end-of-year functions, and queues for taxis are getting longer and longer. In Melbourne Opera Australia is performing the final nights of its spring season before heading back to Sydney for what promises to be a blockbuster summer.
For the first time in Company history, the season opens on New Year’s Eve at the Opera House. As OA Artistic Director Lyndon Terracini explains: “We wanted to start a new tradition, like the one at La Scala where the season always opens on the first night of the Sant’Ambrogio Festival. The idea is that all over the world people will come to associate New Year’s Eve in Sydney with thrills, excitement, fireworks and the opening of Opera Australia’s summer season at the Opera House.”
Thus, on 31 December this year opera lovers will be able to celebrate the advent of 2013 with the first night of Gale Edwards’ runaway success production of La bohème.
|A Masked Ball: Coming to both|
Sydney and Melbourne in 2013
The production boasts a talented young cast of singing actors: rising star Nicole Car is performing her first Mimì, and handsome Gianluca Terranova, who was Alfredo in Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour La Traviata earlier this year, is Rodolfo, the young artist who falls in love with her. Later in the season, Diego Torre, one of the world’s great young tenors, will take over from him. Lorina Gore is the loveable flirt, Musetta, and audience favourite Taryn Fiebig returns from overseas to reprise the role later in the season. “For newcomers to opera, this production is ideal,” Terracini says.
In January opera buffs have their own treat when OA’s exciting new co-production of Verdi’s A Masked Ball, the first of a trio of Verdi operas commemorating the composer’s 200-year birthday anniversary, opens at the Sydney Opera House. “I’ve been watching the set of this production by La Fura dels Baus being built in Workshop, and it’s going to look stunning,” Terracini says. Star tenor Diego Torre is Gustav III, Tamar Iveri makes her OA debut as Amelia, and OA stalwart José Carbó, everybody’s favourite Barber of Seville, makes his Verdi debut as Ankarström, a lyrical baritone role perfectly suited to his voice.
For newcomers to opera, the Verdi festival offers the revival of Elke Neidhardt’s Il trovatore production. Daria Masiero, whom audiences loved as Liù in Turandot, is Leonora, and Arnold Rawls, the ‘King of the High Cs’ who recently sang the role at New York’s Met, is Manrico. Terracini says: “When the tenor sings those stirring high Cs at the end of ‘Di quella pira’, it’s great fun for the audience.” Most people will also know the ‘Anvil Chorus’ from radio commercials or from singing it in a concert.
The grande finale of the Verdi Festival is the revival of Simon Phillips’production of Falstaff, an ensemble piece in which another OA stalwart, baritone Warwick Fyfe, stars in the title role.
Summer at the Opera House ends with a treat for everyone: Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld directed byJonathan Biggins. “The production will be very different from the last time we saw it: expect a Broadway show; expect to laugh a lot and to have a great time,” Terracini says. Comedienne Rachelle Durkin, whom audiences adored as Violetta in Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour - La Traviata, is returning from New York to strut her stuff as Eurydice.
|Rinat Shaham, who will star|
as Carmen in Handa Opera on
Sydney Harbour in 2013
When the Opera House season closes, it is time for the highlight of summer: eighteen nights of balmy outdoor opera on Sydney Harbour. Carmen on the harbour is already selling like hotcakes, and part of the attraction is the return to Sydney of sultry Israeli mezzo-soprano Rinat Shaham, now recognised as one of the world’s great exponents of the role. Russian tenor Dmytro Popov makes his Covent Garden debut right before coming to Sydney to sing Don José, a role that he will share with Adam Diegel, who has been singing Don José at New York’s Met. And local rising star David Corcoran will also be singing a couple of Don Josés.
“We cast these fabulous singing actors because in a production that attracts so many first-time opera goers – this year 61 percent of the audience had never been to an opera before – you need artists who are able to communicate powerfully with a large audience,” Terracini says.
A spectacular set is another essential, and Brian Thomson, who came up with the idea of the chandelier in Traviata, has created another dramatic design for Carmen. “Brian has been under tremendous pressure to top his set for La Traviata, and we think he’s done it.”
|Orpheus in the Underworld|
As for the weather: it drove the entire opera company to distraction last March/April, but Terracini, who has four different weather apps on his iPhone, is confident that 2013 is going to be a piece of cake. “The farmers will hate me for saying this, but it’s an El Niño period, which means drought,” he grins.
Of course, there could be a thunder storm on opening night. “We are always under pressure and I think it’s a good thing. People expect OA to do something special, and it’s our job to live up to that.”